Genuinely affordable housing ‘put at risk’ by government planning reforms, warns Hackney Council

PUBLISHED: 17:35 10 November 2020 | UPDATED: 19:07 12 November 2020

Hackney Mayor Phil Glanville. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

Hackney Mayor Phil Glanville. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

Emma Bartholomew

The mayor of Hackney has hit out at the government’s proposals to reform the planning system, which risk allowing developers to deliver fewer genuinely affordable homes.

The government claims the Planning for the Future white paper would simplify the system and boost the delivery of new homes by speeding up the process.

But in a letter to the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, Philip Glanville has expressed strong opposition to the proposals, warning they are undemocratic, remove local control and accountability, and hinder the councils’ ability to deliver genuinely affordable housing - a view shared across London and wider local government.

As part of the white paper, the government’s new First Home product to “help first-time buyers onto the housing ladder” would be defined as “affordable housing” at 70 per cent of market value - but the letter disputes this is affordable.

The proposals also state the first 25pc of all new affordable housing must come in the form of First Homes and genuinely affordable housing can only be built thereafter - a move which the council has warned would price local residents out of the market.

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There are also proposals that local planning authorities and registered providers would have to pay developers up front to deliver new affordable homes on site, forcing councils to take all the risk up front without any ability to influence shape and design.

Mr Glanville said: “We are in an unprecedented housing crisis, with 13,000 families in Hackney on the housing waiting list, 3,000 of them in temporary accommodation and the proposal brought forward by the government does little to address this large demand, nor provide us with the funding or infrastructure to help deliver the homes so desperately needed in our borough.

“I helped to successfully lead the local opposition to previous attempts to impose detrimental planning reforms on Hackney in 2016 when similar ideas were last proposed.

“They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

“The government needs to work with ─ and not undermine ─ local authorities and provide us with the tools to deliver genuinely affordable new homes.

“If the government fails to heed the chorus of voices from across business and local government condemning their latest planning proposals, they will be responsible for leaving an unpleasant legacy for our future generations and will have failed in levelling up our country.”

The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government has been approached for comment.

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